Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I attended Orycon29 this past weekend, a local science fiction convention that brings together around 1,500 people for a weekend. For the first time I was on some panels.

Science fiction was my first love as a reader; up until I read a book of science fiction short stories, I read books because they were school assignments. When I read that book of short stories, my eyes got opened that stories could say something about the world I lived in, or other worlds.

Science fiction conventions are a many splendered thing. There are panels of authors, some for science, others on how to create goth outfits, sing filk, etc. There are writing workshops, an art show, dances, a dealer's room, many people in costumes of all types.

If I ever had a kid, a science fiction convention is a place I'd feel comfortable about turning them loose. Very family-oriented people.

I was on a panel about reading fees (which are just about always bad), and two panels on movies. I expected to be on a film panel with Will Vinton, but he didn't show, so me and someone who was very knowledgeable about films chatted and let people in the audience talk about their favorite films. My time at the Clinton St Theater in Portland made me well-versed in the films of Takashi Miike, a Japanese director of odd films, and some very scary, like Audition.

I attended some very interesting panels about the physics of space travel (nothing in physics really suggest a 'doable' path yet.

My girlfriend had some work in the artshow so I helped set up metal and panels on Thursday. We stayed at the hotel, even though I live in Portland where the con happened. It's nice to have somewhere to crash during the day without leaving the hotel.

The local paper did a review of the conference that was nice and balanced, at

My writing weekend is still coming up, and I'm looking forward to getting some work done on my new play.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Writers Weekend

I've set up a writers weekend for the end of this month. Several playwrights will attend, gathering at a house near the Oregon Coast on Friday afternoon. After dinner there's a writing session, where everyone goes off to write. On Saturday, there are three more sessions of just writing. During breakfast and lunch and after dinner a scene or two might be read out loud. After breakfast on Sunday, another writing session. After that, people generally are taking off.

These writing weekends are great for focusing just on writing and getting a lot of work done. The conversations are also wonderful.

I generally take a lap top and laser jet printer and end up printing for people. I can write on a computer, but I really need to see something on the page to rewite.

My first drafts are generally quite rough. I generally know the direction I'm going, but I find out what happens when I get there. And what happens can be different than what I expected. In a writing class I would call this heading North, because I know that by going North a character will find something like redemption, etc. But what that redemption looks like, how it plays out, I have to go North to find out.

I've also written ten minute plays based just on an idea and a set up (two characters in the afterlife in conflict about X), but I've found if I don't have an underlying story to go with the idea and set up, no amount of tinkering will fix that lack of direction and purpose. I've tinkered with some ten minute plays up to a year before I finally got a deeper fix.

Deep meditation is another way I get to that deeper place of what a story is about. I try to lead at least one three hour meditation a month to get to a place of quiet, peaceful mind.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Check in the Mail

I received a check today for Betting the Karmic House being published in The Best Ten-Minute Plays for Three or More Actors (2005) by Smith and Kraus, edited by D. L. Lepidus. I'm always happy to get a check for anything theater related.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Sylvia Beach Hotel Sojourn

I managed to stay four days at the Sylvia Beach hotel in Newport, Oregon. The hotel is well-known for having rooms decorated for individual authors. I was in the Oscar Wilde room. There's a Mark Twain room, Sr. Seuss, Edgar Allen Poe, etc. I wrote 50 pages of a new play while there. The hotel has a beautifully arranged, comfortable reading area on the third floor. Many, many readers are up there every day. I found a table where others did puzzles that I could set up my laptop (I bring a full-sized keyboard; I hate tiny laptop keys).

Many people staying at the hotel raved about the unpretentious accommodations, and that two cats roamed about, finding people to sleep with at night. Breakfast was a communal affair, easy to meet others. A formal dinner was optional, but it included much time to visit others and play a game called Two Truths and a Lie. I ended up not playing, a disappointment to others. I have an issue with lying, that it's wrong to do and weakens me. I didn't explain that, but on a few nights I found it easier to go out to Burger King, which also gave me more time to write (dinners take about two hours, with a leisurely presentation of food and much conversation).

I did get a lot of work done on a new, full length play. I had an idea for a story (about people who feel they have a special destiny in life), some characters, and a destination to aim for, and an opening scene in mind before I arrived. So when got there, mostly I just wrote. After three days of full time writing, I had 50 pages (I was aiming for 60) but then I burned out, so I spent my last day rewriting my opening scene/first ten pages. I'm a terrible first draft writer, but writing helps me get to a deeper place of understanding about my characters and helps me flesh out my plot.

I once wrote with someone who is a first draft writer. With her, you did a first draft, polished it, you were done. My writing as a way to see where I was going didn't work at all for her. She was great about talking through story/character/plot ideas before writing, but not so much during or after.

I do enjoy working with others and sounding out ideas and developing characters, but the give and take of a partnership can be difficult.

Since I've learned about the mechanics of storytelling, I find when I get a first draft done, there's something there I can build on.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Intro to A Story is a Promise Blog

This is the very first post in my new blog. I welcome a discussion about storytelling. I'm the author of a Story is a Promise. When I came up with these ideas about how a story functions as a promise and wrote the book, I thought if new and struggling writers could be taught the mechanics of storytelling, their writing would automatically improve. These principles have helped many writers, but I'm now exploring why so many people fail to learn storytelling (not just from me; I've worked with people who've taken writing workshops for 20 years from several dozen teachers and knew just about zero about storytelling). I'm actively seeking writers who would like to participate in a process I call Deep Characterization. Contact me for details.